Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Warriors of Loss

         Thanksgiving was always my favorite gathering holiday, for many reasons. Looking back, it was one of the few things I trusted growing up. We always had it at my house. My mom cooked everything, and then she'd do it again Friday morning because we never had enough left-overs for her liking.  Her parents, brother, aunts and uncles would come over. It was one of the only times during the year I was able to listen to them communicate with each other.  There would be football, food, lots of highly entertaining and wildy innapropriate conversations for a young mind to hear, laughing, political debates, happy and mad yelling at both the football game and each other.  When we sat down to eat, if someone was not present at the table, they would be called and the phone passed around the table to speak with everyone.  It happened every year. I knew what to expect and knew my house would be lively. I liked it. It was such a nice change to the quiet, mostly non verbal people I lived with.  
         We reflect on all the things, people, places, circumstances, experiences we've had throughout the year.  We look back with fondness at happy moments and find silver linings in sad. We count our blessings. No matter our religion, I'm sure He is looking down upon us with extra happiness. It's a day that isn't turned into materialism, or commercialized. We give thanks. There's no stress about gift giving, or trying to "remember the reason for the season."  It's just a day of thanks, and I love that. 
        Since my last thanksgiving being present at that childhood table, all but my immediate family has passed on. My parents and brother have continued to gather together, and the tradition of the phone passing continued as well.  For many years this was the only day out of the year that I spoke to my brother, and often my father if he didn't answer on Father's Day. I have come to realize that I still trust thanksgiving day to be that one day a year that my family connects as a whole, even if by phone.  
          This year will be different. This year, for the first time in 35 years, I won't hear my mother's, father's, or brother's voice.  They have decided I am unworthy to be a part of their lives.  I haven't heard from my mother in almost 5 months, and I miss her.  I have been trying to find a silver lining, but is there one? How can you make losing your family seem better? In so many ways, it hurts so much more that they aren't actually dead. They choose this every day. Every day they miss our family's accomplishments, our triumphs, our struggles.  They've robbed me of helping them with theirs.  They've left hurt, confused grandchildren in their wake, with parents that are unable to explain that kind of behavior. So, this year, can I be thankful and not at the same time? 
          I am so very thankful for so many things. But, there will be an emptiness about today that I know I am personally incapable of filling. I'm not sure I even want to try, because the failure will compound the initial sting.  I will absolutely count my blessings. I will be grateful for so many great friends. I know I am richly blessed. I know Heavenly Father has to look at us today with a smile, all across the country people are thanking Him and some don't even know it. I don't want to let Him down. I will thank Him too. I hope my family is thanking Him as well, instead of the "table talk" being thier disgust for me. I want them to feel what it feels like to count blessings, even if they don't count me. There's no rule on what we have to be thankful for, just that we are thankful.  So, I will be thankful. 
           To those that have suffered immeasurable losses this year...maybe we can acknowledge the loss, let ourselves be sad in our pies with our bellies full of turkey, and move into Friday knowing we survived another day of the year without those that we thought would never leave us. Maybe that's what we can be thankful for. Surviving. We are warriors of loss. We can get through another Thursday, another Friday, a Christmas, an Easter, a Saturday, all days. They keep going, so we have to too. I am thankful for each of you that has read this and wanted to give me a hug, because frankly I need them! I am thankful for wanting to give you one back, as I know if not this year, some year you will be where I am because everyone has losses. I'm thankful you will let me give you that hug. I am thankful for all those that help me survive every day, and let me help them survive.   I am thankful for His plan that created us to be here for one another, and be instruments in His hands, especially when we aren't bonded by DNA.  Thank you to all that have helped me survive all the seemingly impossible days.  Thank you for giving me infinite reasons to give thanks on this thanksgiving day. All those acts of kindness build armor, so I can be the best warrior of loss I can be! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Do Something Hard

          Do something hard. Do something you don't think you could possibly do.  Go out, and do it.  One of my favorite motivators is my track coach from high school.  I joined the team not because I loved the sport, or had any desire to run.  I had friends on the team, the coach had a curious kindness, and being on a team meant I didn't have to go home after school.  In fact, the first season I showed up just long enough to get the jersey, then wore it on meet days so my parents thought I was still on the team.  I didn't have to go home after school, it was perfect.  I joined again the second year, this time I'd try out the field events, again so I didn't have to run.  Somewhere along the way, I grew to find a place there.  Running short distances during practice became tolerable.  Beating my own times became "fun".  All the while my dear track coach pushing me to do cross country. 
          Running long distances seemed impossible and I couldn't understand why anyone would desire to spend their time in such agony.  After graduation, I would run a mile a few times a week (that seemed to far!). One day, I woke up and decided to do a 5k.  In my mind I owed it to my track coach.  He did so much for me, so I was going to do this for him.  It took a very long time to work up to even 2 miles.  Years, really. I didn't put a timeline on my goal, so I took my time. I did the 5k, and that day it was the longest I had run. It felt like it took eternity to finish. I remember being exhausted all day afterwards, but feeling like I finally conquered distance running. 
          Skip ahead a few more years when I got this crazy idea to run a half marathon.  It's just a 5k with a 10 mile warm up, right? I felt like I had to do it, because it seemed so scary, and so impossible, that I had to get in it's face and do it.  Well, I will say a 5k started to seem like a warm up, and running that distance started to be part of the day, and not exhausting but exhilarating.  Some runs were really hard, even the short ones.  Some were tolerable.  Some were almost..."fun"?  I'm not sure a runners definition of "fun" is the same as the rest of the worlds, but when a run isn't agonizing I can see the runner using "fun" just because it's so exciting that they got through it without hating every step.  I ran when I was physically ill, physically hurt, emotionally flat, sad, having good days, having bad days, in the hot, in the cold, in the rain.  I ran under every circumstance, so I knew on race day no matter what was going on, I'd have done it before. 
          Race day came, and I was petrified.  My longest training run was just under 12 miles.  I had to stop my last run after 3 miles because of hip and knee pain.   I had over trained my calves weeks before, which changed my stride making my knee hurt.  I changed again because of my knee, so my hip hurt.  I hoped I had done what I needed to change my stride back.  I had no idea what was going to happen.  We started, and every step was a step forward.  Every step was a step closer to the finish.  I was nervous I wouldn't finish the whole time.  I was scared my knees would stop working, or my hip would give out.  Every step after the 12th mile was even more scary. I had never gone that far, can I keep going? I kept going.  I wasn't dying, my joints were working, I can't even remember if my feet hurt. I just remember hearing the announcer announcing names as they finished, then seeing the finish line .5 mile away and thinking, "I could walk there and I'd make it."  What a relief! It was a beautiful, sunny day. I ran the rest of the way around a pretty lake and crossed the finish 4 minutes under my "in a perfect world" goal time.  30-45 seconds faster per minute than I trained. It. Was. Awesome.
            In the days after, there were a few things that came up that I would have thought scary, and impossible.  They didn't seem as scary, or impossible anymore.  Nothing seemed impossible anymore.  Things that were hard, didn't seem like such a big deal.  Not only that, but, I used to not run because of every excuse.  Not because I was trying to be lazy, but because I didn't think it was possible.  Now, I know I'll get through it.  I can run hurt, tired, sick, scared, sad, overwhelmed.  Things that were paralyzing don't have to be.  Honestly, there were very few training runs that had perfect weather, and I felt good enough to have a great run.  Almost every time there was a good reason for me not to go.  It was a slow process, and I'm an impatient person so each day came with new challenges.  Goals don't happen over night, the bigger the goal, the longer and harder the fight...and the better the reward. 
         Of course, I have to liken this all to life.  Every day is a training run.  I have a lot of emotional stumbling blocks.  A lot of paralyzing thoughts and feelings.  Can I treat them like the physical stumbling blocks during all those runs? Instead of letting them stop me, can I acknowledge they are there, and change my stride so I can get to the finish without so much pain that I just can't go on? Physically growing my body to be able to finish that race wasn't easy. But it wasn't impossible.  And now, growing emotionally enough to conquer all these stumbling blocks in my brain seems a little more possible.  So, if you want something to seem a bit less scary, or make something impossible possible, go do something bigger, and harder.  Over reach.  Pick something so far away that touching it will mean every other mountain becomes a mole hill.  In the words of Nike, "Just Do It."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An ode...

Far more than being down,
far more than mere sadness.
A weight that causes much more than a frown.

We smile, laugh, hide it so well.
It cuts to the core.
No one can see our hell.

It sneaks up when we least expect it, and won't go away.
draining our energy, stealing our appetite, robbing our joy.
Nothing left, not even the energy to pray.

Self-destruction, drugs, alcohol.
Anything is better than a pain so fierce.
Nothing to ease it, except the vices that make us fall.

We don't understand why.
Life seems harder, joy seems foreign.
Constantly thinking about how to die.

Loving words will make us want to live,
craving kindness to fill the void.
It doesn't, we must be defective.

We over compensate for our sadness,
with extra outward happiness.
No one can know, that would cause madness.

Did it work? Were we happy enough?
Did they notice?
Why was that so tough?

We wonder how He can let us live like this,
Surely He hates us
So much of life we miss.

Is it us that has failed Him?
He sent us to find joy.
But everything seems grim.

Will the end set us free?
Will the weight be gone? Emptiness filled?
Will we be what He wants us to be?

"It'll get better", "Time will heal", they say. 
Days turn to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. 
This beast doesn't change, it's here to stay. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

          I know I'm not the only one that cringes scrolling through at all the "My father is my hero" posts on facebook.  I see them and I just don't get it. I've been trying to spin things I perceive as bad into something good this year, so I brainstormed on the things I really did learn from my dad.  This way, I can start to appreciate his personality for what it is, knowing it likely won't ever change.  Here's what I came up with....

1) The importance of love -  I can honestly say, he formed my desire to love.  I decided at a fairly young age, I didn't want anyone, anywhere, ever to feel the lack of love that I did.  I know I have more, closer friends because of my desire to help people feel loved.  He taught me that being concerned of another's feelings and well-being when it positively impacts only you, doesn't get you very far where relationships are concerned. 

2) Money doesn't buy happiness - My family holds money over people's heads, and uses it to conditionally love one another.  They think the more money they throw at you, the more you will feel loved.  I have been shunned more than once for showing an act of kindness, instead of buying lavish presents. I wish they knew what they're missing. 

3) Children have thier own brains - I was told what to feel, think, like, dislike. I was told what I'd do, and where I'd go, and how I'd like it.  I'm in my mid 30's, and still wonder sometimes how I feel or what I like because no one is dictating it.  Yes, kids are smaller. It's easy to shun what they think and feel. Whether we like it or not, let's hear them. Acknowledge what they say they need. Pay attention. If we can't make their voice matter, we can let them think their voice matters.  That power will carry them. 

4) Family time - When we spend quality time together, our kids have more opportunities to voice that valued opinion, and we will appreciate it so much more. It'll be genuine, and perfect. Not forced, tense, or lies.  

5) Forcing people to do what you want makes them fake If you make people do what you want, and it's not genuine, it doesn't mean anything. It also turns them into dishonest people. They'll feel bad doing what you want, and resent you like crazy. 

6) Sometimes, the people you want to be right, are wrong - That moment you realize the person you've been listening to all your life, that's told you what to do, how to think, and what you want, is wrong.  That a higher power trumps what used to be the God of your world.  And trumps him in a big way.  Of course, I would love my family to be who I go to for love and support. I want them to be "right".  It would make my world easier. But, sometimes, trusting in our Heavenly Father and know His teachings are more important will bring greater blessings. 

          Loving one another, valuing others thoughts and feelings, quality time with those I care about...complete opposite of what my father taught me.  But, I am thankful for my sensitivity to those things. I'm grateful I look for what those around me need, and try my best to help them gain it.  Growing up in his home taught me to look for those things, because I yearned for them all so greatly.  Knowing I can give a piece of it to others is, just simply, the best. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

Creatures of Habit

          I wonder why we mess up, feel awful, that feeling wears off and we somehow start to justify messing up again. Seems so silly. Why don't we learn the first time? Why do we choose to keep going back to things we know are bad for us? Even with the consequences staring us in the face, our desire to mess up again grows and grows. Sometimes we fight and fight for years, learn to coast, then when we finally give in to temptation we feel like we're "going home".  That place we started, and the actions we chose, they're what make us who we are. Even if we hate that person, we can't escape our true identity. The things that brought us comfort in our darkest hours before we knew any better are like security blankets.  Our best friends are objects, or substances that we know will bring darkness, yet at the same time bring a certain element of comfort. They were there for us when we needed it, when no human was.  Even if it's been a while, going back feels like meeting up with an old friend.  The best of friends.  The only friend that can be there whenever and wherever we need them to.  We justify, and trick ourselves into thinking "it's ok." 
         I don't have much of a sense of smell. I can smell a few things, but it's definitely very rare. After all these years, I have yet to learn when someone says, "Do you smell that?" I can't, yet I always take a whiff. Each time I always expect to smell whatever it is that the other person is smelling, until after the whiff. Each time I wonder why I haven't learned. This same phenomenon happens some mornings, I wake up thinking I'm going to have a great, "normal" day. Actually I don't even think about it, I just get up as I should, and go on about what I need to do.  The thought doesn't even occur to me that anything will get in my way. Sometimes, a short time after getting out of bed, it hits me.  I just want to crawl back in bed and cry. It comes out of nowhere! It actually surprises me. How have I not learned? I guess the same way I haven't learned I can't "go home" to the things my natural man desires. 
          On the other hand, I continue to do the things I'm supposed to do to feel the spirit. I keep falling back onto the hope that someday I'll read a scripture or hear a talk that will hit my heart in a way that I'll know He doesn't hate me.  For years I've begged Him to take this monster inside of me away.  I don't ever want to stop doing that. When it comes to this, I'm glad I haven't "learned".  Maybe this is just one of those times I have to take the good with the bad.  I don't know if my natural man will ever be able to feel His presence again, but I know I never want to stop trying.  I never want to stop hoping.  I never want to stop fighting. If I can't learn to stop the bad, I'm glad I can't learn to stop the good.  Maybe if I don't stop the good, "going home" will mean being in His presence, not feeding and being trapped with the monster inside me.   

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fighting the Fright

         I wish I could open up my gut like a door, and have someone reach in and quickly turn, twist, and tweak everything to make it feel less empty. They can do it with physical ailments, why not? How nice it would be to have such a quick fix. I have been struggling with trying come up with something uplifting to write, as I haven't felt particularly uplifting lately.  I don't like being a burden to those around me, though I constantly feel like I am.  I always feel like I owe them something for letting me in thier presence. I have to be the last to walk through a door, or enter a circle, or eat, because if there's not enough room, or food, then it's definitely everyone else that is more important and should have first dibs.  So, I don't ever want these posts to be a burden.  Couple that with an insane desire to inspire, uplift, and spread love and my head starts to spin.  Maybe someday...
          So often I want to just stomp my feet, and say "Life's not fair!" Let's face it, as adults we are just kids in older bodies.  It's so easy to want to throw a temper tantrum.  Life isn't fair.  Our parents told us, and we've learned it ourselves.  We yearn for things we'll never have, when others have an amazing amount of it and sometimes they don't even want it. We love people that don't love us back, or they can't see our love for them so they distance themselves.  We work hard for something for years that is taken away in a split second. People around us get ahead for being dishonest, while we remain where we are because we chose to do the "right" thing. It's easy to dwell on it, and want to give up, because we feel like we're never going to win. We lose ourselves in the fight to survive. We look back and realize we have transformed into someone else in the midst of life's challenges.  Sometimes that transformation results in someone so much better...stronger, and wiser.  For some, they are stretched a little more than they can bare, and break.   
         When I think of "Fight or Flight", I always think about a physical attack.  People run, or they fight.  I guess that term works for emotions and thoughts too.  We can fight them, or run from them.  If we run, will they always chase us? Will they ever get tired like a physical attacker would? If we fight them, can we beat them? I guess it depends on the tools we have.  We would have a fighting chance with a gun, or maybe even a baseball bat.  A pen would be really helpful to write a letter, but not so much to fight off a physical attack.  I know I don't have the tools I need to fight.  I know I have done the same things to fight this over and over...yep, it's insanity at it's best.  What I don't know is, why I can't get past my fear to go get those tools.  Apparently I'd rather sit down and write letters than go buy a gun.  I'd rather write a letter to brighten my attackers day, than burden the gun shop owner with my frantic emergency.  I probably need the gun shop owner to buy the gun, but I think I also need the gun stun the attacker enough to get to the gun shop.  
          So, nothing too uplifting today. Except a heartfelt "thanks" to those that listen and watch me go in circles.  Words can't even express the gratitude I have to you. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness

           I grew up in a home where materialistic and worldly items were of much more value than the people within the walls.  I've heard others boast about how they replace "old" phones and computers every year with the newest model.  I talk to people in my line of work daily that are really poverty stricken, and some that think they are. Many are wondering how they will get their next meal with no gas in their car, money for the meal, electricity to heat it up, all while enduring health restrictions that would prevent those acts even if they had the money. They are completely reliant on others to help them, and often can't afford the help. They are truly in physical need. Then there are those that think having to get rid of their cell phone would be tragic, and call that "poverty".  I often ponder the differences in individual minds and life experiences that create notions of worlds in which we think we should live. Regardless, when we see the word "poverty", our minds go right to a physical state of despair.
          I've mentioned I grew up in a home where there was no religion. It was a big home, with fancy furnishings put there by the best decorator money could buy.  All parties were catered and black tie.  My parents bought us nice things, not because they wanted it for us, but because it showed the world they were "better".  We were certainly not poverty stricken in the physical sense, but with all those materialistic possessions in my home, it was empty.  Empty of love, charity, the spirit, His guidance, and knowledge of His plan for us.  We were spiritually in a poverty stricken state.  We were beings that co-existed in the same space, separated by a lack of love towards each other.  A love that could have existed through His guidance, and a knowledge of His plan for us as a family.  Alma 41:11 states, "And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness." That was us.
          Is it safe to use the word "poverty" in association with a spiritual deficiency? Why don't we ever associate that word with spiritual needs? There are many in spiritual despair.  Our Heavenly Father's presence in our lives changes how we act, react, associate with others, think, changes everything about us. When we take care of our spiritual needs, our desire to thrive increases.  Our motivation to do better, and be better increases. We, in turn, take care of others, showing charity and emanating His love.  The difference is, we can't always control physical poverty, but once we have the knowledge we can always control spiritual poverty.  We have the choice to pray, seek Him, and open the door to let Him in.    
         There are so many that outwardly appear to be in a comfortable state. As humans we tend to look at someone's physical appearance first to assess needs. If their physical appearances are that of fancy clothes and comfortably sized homes we assume they are okay.  If they are sick or otherwise afflicted, we are more comfortable bringing someone a casserole, or cleaning their home than we are offering a quote from a conference talk or comforting scriptures. We fear our beliefs will be rejected, and friendships will be stressed.  We can't see spiritual poverty, and sometimes the person in that state won't even know it themselves.  It's a personal battle, but it's also one that can grow deeply by charitable acts of spiritual nature by those around the person struggling.
          What about those that are well put together physically and come to church every week?  Everyone has struggles. I wonder how many come to church every week in spiritual poverty.  Is it possible to have the gospel in your life and still be in spiritual despair? Or is that like the person who thinks giving up their cell phone is poverty?  It's there for them, they have the knowledge, yet they can't feel His love.   Maybe they've sinned, have a physical ailment preventing comprehension of it, or they've put a wall up.  There are people with those struggles, I am one of them, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  We pray, read scriptures, obey commandments, and at the end of the day we lack the joy we are taught it is supposed to bring.  We feel lost, and that He has singled us out to reject.  Our head says "No, He loves you. You've been taught better than those thoughts." but our hearts feel otherwise.  We live in this state of confusion with a hope in the promises we've read and have been taught, and then we hope our hope won't burn us. 
          I know the home I was raised in, and their worshipping of worldly possessions, is not the path to happiness.  I've watched my family members buy the nice car, or house, and it fulfills their needs for a time, but they quickly become dissatisfied.  The emptiness I know they feel comes back, so they move onto the next big purchase, or expensive vacation. I know His love is what brings true happiness.  I know that's what can let our hearts be still.  When we know it's there, and radiate it for others to see, that's happiness.  When spiritual poverty leaves, our lights shine bright.  I see it all around me, and I yearn for the disconnect between my Heavenly Father and I to dissipate.  I know I'm not near at the poverty level I was before having the gospel in my life, because I know now where I can turn.  Hopefully someday I'll figure out a way to put down that wall, or humble myself enough, or fix whatever is broken in my brain, because I'd really love my light to shine bright enough to help another out of their spiritual poverty.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fear vs. Fear

          Fear is a funny thing. It can cripple us, or motivate us.  It changes our reactions, and our thought processes. It causes an instinct of survival that leads us to realize our unknown strength, or how cowardly we can be. 
         One night when I was in high school, my closest friend and his buddy drove me and another girl, let's call her Katy, deep into the woods. He stopped, and told us to get out of the car. It was dark, really dark. He handed Katy and I a brown bag of snacks and said "share it, but be careful, you'll be here a while so ration it."  He then threw his keys deep into the woods. The only light source we had were the headlights on his car, which were off inside his locked doors. Of course, katy and I looked at each other speechless. She ran up to him yelling. I stood there, scared. Scared of what my parents were going to do when they found out I wasn't where I told them I'd be. Scared of what these 2 boys were going to do and for how long. Scared of what was lurking in the dark woods. Katy fought. Fear motivated her to get out of this situation. I remember listening to her cry, and the boys laugh, while not being able to move. Her instinct was to fight, and I was standing so still and quiet that no one was paying any attention to me.  I remember looking into the woods, drowning out her cries with the silence of the forest. I could have ran, though I had no idea where we were, it was pitch black, and I didn't want to leave Katy. I sat down and looked back towards them, my best friends and this girl in two very different states of emotion. She wasn't as used to these situations as I was. I pulled her back and told her, "It'll be ok. They're messing with us." The next few hours went about the same. She was upset and fighting. I was quiet, and hopeful I'd get out of those creepy woods before too long.  The boys kept telling us to get comfortable as we'd be there for days. 
          As I'm sure they had planned,  with just enough time to get us back by curfew, the driver pulled his keys out of his pocket and jingled them. He had thrown a fake set into the woods. We were shortly on our way home, and made it by the time any parents knew otherwise. I was reflecting on this story this week, as I have been trying to switch the result of fear within a present day battle. I hate being a slave to fear. I want it to drive me to fight, not cower. I've tried therapy a few times, each has ended as fast as it started for various different reasons. Looking back, though some instances were out of my control, I'm certain I could have tried harder, or gone longer. I don't think I knew it at the time, but I have realized this week that though I knew I was scared each time to go, I didn't know the depth of that fear. I don't like opening up in person, mostly, I thought, because I don't know what to tell. I don't have a lot of memories from when I was a child. I don't know the source of my sadness. I've been telling myself that for a long time. I think I've been hiding behind it. My thought processes seem to hit a brick wall when I try to think further than the superficial fear of a face to face conversation. 
          I think He has been telling me this week that there is something there to discuss, and I need to figure out what it is. When I reflected on the situation in the woods, I thought about how frightened Katy was versus how frightened I was. She didn't know this was their idea of "fun".  I was scared, but she was petrified. I am scared to talk with people face to face about what goes on inside my brain, but I am petrified to talk about why it's there. When Katy was petrified, she fought. I need to fight. I don't think I really want to remember whatever it is that He thinks I need to, but if anything, it's made me realize what I've been doing.  What separates success and failure? Courage. Courage to fight, knowing you might fail. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

He's Everything

         I keep picturing myself running full force into a brick wall over and over again until I collapse from exhaustion. I hope that brick wall that I'm beating myself against is Him. I can only hope He's as immovable as that wall.  Can I break Him? Let's say each sin is a rock, will He shatter if I throw too many at Him? I'd like to think He's standing with his arms stretched as a football linebacker would, not letting me knock Him down. Waiting until I collapse so He can catch me.  
         "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Does it? Or does it grit on you you until you're too tired to fight it? You can only stretch any object so far before it breaks. And here I sit, in the same spot I've been so many times. I'm human, and imperfect. I've been beating my head against this brick wall for what feels like forever. I stand up, and I sit down. I break, then put the pieces together, then break.
          Today... I'm angry. I'm angry at all the hurt, depths of despair, pits of darkness, and water too deep to tread. I'm angry that it covers the earth. I'm angry at what I can't control. I'm angry at my heavy body that won't move, and the tears that won't come. I'm angry that I can't even figure out why I want to cry! I'm angry at "it" for taking so much life out of millions of really good people. "You're not alone.", "I've been there.", "So many others suffer like you." Ok, maybe I'm alone here, but does hearing that make anyone feel better?? Why do I want anyone to feel this way?!? I don't want know others suffer. I want to know there's still happiness out there. That He is letting people feel the joy He's promised. Ok, I get it, I should be comforted by others knowing where I'm at and "getting it."  Truth is, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Knowing it's sucking the life out of others makes me wonder more where He is. Sometimes it seems there's so much more sadness in the world than happiness. People are stressed, don't have enough time for half of what they need to do for others let alone anything for themselves, treading water that they're slowing sinking into, life is crushing them. We go to church and follow commandments because that gives us hope that we'll get to a place someday that all these things that are making us sink will be gone. 
        Maybe He let's us sink so we fall into Him. He's the water? The muck that makes the pit? That wall? So He can surround us when no one else will or can? Maybe. When I think of it that way, the anger dissipates a bit. He's everything, the edge of the cliff that we're holding onto with the tip of a pinky, so He can look in our eyes as we try not to fall. We may be about to let go, and think He's nowhere, but really it's Him that we're holding onto and we don't even know it. Maybe?    

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Voice for Him

          Our ward has been given a few challenges for the beginning of this year. One is to give away a copy of the Book of Mormon. My kids took this seriously and each gave a copy to a friend. While my son's friend was leaving with her copy, and her father was standing there at the front door, he yelled from the top of our stairs, "Read that book!" My first instinct was that of embarrassment. I even apologized to the father. My son did what he was asked to do. He was an instrument in His hands. More than that, he was a voice for Him. He didn't mearly hand her the book and let her go. He didn't leave it lying around and hope someone would find it, just to check off the task with minimal effort. He yelled, "READ IT!"  He gave Heavenly Father a voice. We can do good deeds, and good actions, but what happens when we don't back it up with words? He needs us to be His voice. I was a bit appalled at myself for being embarrassed. My son had no fear. I could see in his eyes and hear in his voice the joy he knew he was giving a dear friend whom he loves. He wants her to know her Heavenly Father's plan for her. He wants her to have His love in her life where she can see and recognize it. And there I was, embarrassed.  Embarrassment to me is just fear.  Fear of rejection, judgement, anger.  "Become like a little child" never has had more meaning to me. No fear! I'm not sure who said, "Fear shows a lack of faith.", but I think of it daily. I try not to have fear, but it definitely holds me back. My son is 9, but I looked up to him that day.
          I know the scriptures and our leaders are good examples of His voice. We sit in our lessons knowing the manuals are inspired, but I want to be a voice for Him too. Some people haven't been taught how to hear "the still small voice". They need one a bit louder to help them make that connection, so they can learn to hear His whispers. I'm so thankful for the missionaries that taught me. They were His voice. They showed me how to hear Him on my own. Sometimes how we hear Him has to change, and we have to relearn. I think He sent a new set of people to help me with that as well. Here I am, repaying Him with embarrassment! Yikes! I wasn't a voice for Him that day, but next time I will be. My son and I will shout together, knowing He needs a voice that at that moment only we can provide.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Shattered Glass

          So, what's it feel like? Like you're a piece of glass, and if you bend you'll shatter.  Hell, I imagine. If hell is worse, I can't even begin to comprehend it.  You reach out to others, hoping they'll say or do something to make "it" go away. "It", the emotional pit of despair that no one can see or begin to understand unless they've lived it.  When all you can do is curl up in a ball and cry, which you have no energy to do, so you just stare and wait to be able to move without breaking.  You know time is ticking by and there's so much to be done, but you just can't move.  Physical pain is easier, so you cause that to mask "it", just so you can function until you start all over.  Smiling feels like a hot knife thrust into your gut, but you do it so no one knows. Sometimes you do it too much, smile, make people laugh, over compensate so the most important people in your life are kept from the knowledge that you're dying inside. You tell people, "I'm fine." You're smiling on the outside and screaming on the inside, hoping they hear the maybe they'll say or do something to, again, make "it" go away.  Faking it becomes second nature. You smile, you laugh, it cuts. At the end of the day you hate yourself for being fake. Why couldn't you just tell someone? Because you know they can't do anything to stop it.  You've fallen into that trap of false hope before, and at least this way they were happy. If anything their happiness lessens the pain a bit more than it would if it were they that were trying to make you happy, because you know that wouldn't have worked anyway.  You go to bed telling yourself, "Tomorrow will be better. I'll wake up, get up, feel whole, go on about my day, and everything will be fine." You wake up paralyzed.  You tell yourself to "Snap out of it." You wonder why life seems so hard for you when really it's no different than anyone else's.  You have infinite blessings, no reason to be down.  So why does it feel like you physically have an elephant on your back? Your body is heavy, it's hard to breath, it takes too much energy to do anything.  Anything life sustaining is not only too much work, but going to prolong your hell. You pray and beg for help, and when you don't start to feel better you start to pray to die.  You wake up in the morning thinking, "Again? Really?" Then have to repent for being so incredibly unappreciative of His hand in your life. You know He's there, you see it with your eyes, but your heart didn't get the memo.  It never ends.  "It" never ends.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Road More Traveled

         A friend told me the other day, "once you travel down a road, you are always more vulnerable to travel down that road again." Humans are habitual creatures. I guess that's why the definition of insanity is "doing something over and over again and expecting different results." There's only one way someone figured that out, and that's by experiencing it. I've always felt more at home on the roads I traveled first. Unfortunately those roads were the dead ends.
          I visited my home town last week. I stayed in the neighborhood I grew up in. I drove the streets I did as a drunken teen. I watched the same yellow line on the side of the road as I did so many nights on my way home from smoking pot out of bongs I had made with beer cans. Watching that yellow line kept me on the road back then.  I could almost still see that big penguin I hallucinated sitting on the traffic light. I could see me, walking down the busy road, as slow as i could, too afraid to go home. Listening to the rattling of the mini vodka bottles in my backpack, trying to forget the bitter cold biting the fingers that clinched my cigarette, hoping a car would veer off the road and hit me.  I stared at the trees as they went by, and thought of the daily fantasies of driving my car into them, remembering how angry I was at the air bag between myself and the wind shield.
          Part of me missed that road. As hard as it was, I was able to escape. I could do those things without it effecting my eternal salvation, without guilt. I could think freely without feeling guilty for being "evil". After all, ignorance is bliss, right?
          I went from that place straight to the Temple. The same Temple I went for Katrina's sealing just two weeks before. What an awesome day that was! This time...I felt ... quite the opposite. There was no light. I won't say He was gone from me (I know better), but I was certainly gone from Him. The road from those sidewalks to the Temple the first time was quite a few years, and a lot of preparation. This time, "older" and "wiser" didn't exactly connect. I guess that's why we are urged to stay so close to the iron rod. If we waiver just a bit, we will fall into the darkness. The darkness is exactly that, dark.
          The next day I listened to a friend bear his testimony about how he was able to "touch heaven" by witnessing his daughter's sealing in the Temple. He spoke about feeling His love, and about how that love is what gets him through life. This person is on a vastly different spiritual plane than I, and my immediate thought was, "I'm not going to make it. I don't have those feelings. He said that's what gets him through, without it he wouldn't make it."  In that moment I was totally fine with giving up. If there's one thing He has made known to me, it's that I don't feel Him like most.  I'm trying to remember exactly that, that He's made it known unto me, and let that knowledge be enough to get me through. He's whispered it to me, and shown me. He knows, and He's let me know.  
          There's only one thing that can fill darkness, and that's light.  He shows us our own paths to the light in different ways.  If everyone's road was the same, we'd have nothing to learn on our own.  Sometimes we all need to take wrong turns, but we can be thankful He's hovering above us with a map.  The road at the end of those childhood streets was dark. Even though I was standing in the Temple, my mind was still on those streets, and I wouldn't let Him in.  I'll admit, sometimes that darkness feels more like "me" than the light.  It's easier to fall.  It's easier to let my guard down to all my natural tendencies, and let my brain do what it naturally wants to do.  I'm not sure my road will end with "touching heaven". I know it has a few extra curves and twists in it that I'm not always as appreciative of as I should be, but when I'm ready I can look up and hope He'll show me which way to go to reach the light.